Does content marketing have a future?

Adelle Horler is group head of content at New Media, strapping on running shoes for a fast-changing year.

Of course – but it’s changing, said Adelle Horler in an interview with Media Update.

Media Update: What are the main trends we can expect to see in content in 2016?

Adelle: I think a lot of the big trends this year will be driven by the fact that there’s just too much content out there, on too many channels, and the amount we have to get through each day is exhausting us all.

So visual content will remain the hero – it’s quicker to consume, video in particular can tell a more immersive and emotional story, and as our bandwidth improves it becomes less of an irritation to download and upload. And with YouTube and Facebook now supporting 360° video, virtual reality will be one of the most exciting changes spaces to play in next year.

Visual impact affects social media too. Research by TrackMaven found that engagement with branded social media is falling badly – except on Instagram. On Twitter, arguably the least visual, most tweets (73%) get 10 or less interactions. On Instagram the majority of posts (90%) get 250 interactions or more (49% of photos and 60% of videos).

Another trend may be a move away from regular, predictable communications from brands, in favour of more campaign-driven work to reach customers. We’re becoming so accustomed to new channels, new media, new apps that blow your mind, that we need new and exciting concepts from brands if they’re to get our attention. Campaigns are quick, fun and then attention moves on to the next new thing – exactly the way Millennials in particular experience their lives.

Thirdly, distribution models need a creative overhaul. Personalisation and curation sites put users far more in control of channels and what they consume on them, so brands will need to be far more creative in making sure their brilliant content actually reaches their target audience.

I think it will be less vital to get audiences to your site; we must rather get the content to them. Facebook’s Instant Articles is just the beginning.

Do you think content marketing will still be such a buzzword in 2016? Will content still be as big a deal as it is now?

Yes, because content is still one of the best ways to get people to engage with your brand, especially compared to a hard-sell push ad. But the nature of the content must change. It must be easy to find and consume, and offer utility. Too many brands still want to push their product too hard in their content marketing, instead of offering a solution or something useful to customers.

How do businesses and brands need to adjust their marketing and content strategies in order to keep pace in 2016?

I think we have to question the quantity of content we produce, and be more discerning about the channels we use. There’s a hype around more channels and more posts equals more engagement – but ‘more is more’ just adds to the content cacophony, and doesn’t break through it.

We also need to extend the creative process beyond content creation and into distribution. Collaboration is key here. Who already has the audiences you want to reach – and what can you contribute to their experience, which will ultimately impact your brand?

What trends are you and New Media Publishing excited to see develop this year?

Our industry changes so fast there’s always something to look forward to! A big one for me is virtual reality and 360° video. It combines the trends – visual impact and it puts the user in control of what they see.

Purpose-driven content marketing is also exciting. It’s no longer enough just to push a brand – audiences feel more positively towards a brand that’s doing good, not just doing business. I’m challenged by how we can use our access to brands to make a contribution, while still creating killer content for them. I think we can make a difference.


Written by Adelle Horler

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